Navy’s first dedicated satellite Rukmini starts functioning
Indian Navy’s first dedicated satellite, Rukmini, has gone into operational mode soon after 13 October. That was the day when the satellite, GSAT 7, reached its geosynchronous orbital position at 70 degree east longitude. The satellite was launched on 30 August (Friday) from European Space Agency, Arianespace’s launch site at Kourou in French Guiana.
The navy’s spokesperson, Captain PVS Satish, informed Millennium Post, ‘All the 11 communication transponders of India’s advanced multiband communication satellite GSAT-7 have been successfully switched on and their performance is found to be normal.’
Navy, in fact, takes pains to explain that it is only a communication satellite and not a so-called military satellite, ostensibly because it seeks to obviate any speculation about the role of the civilian, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The ISRO is the command and control body of Rukmini, which it could not have done had it been a military satellite.
The service does not want to attract too much attention to the satellite as it seeks to take the first step to being a ‘full spectrum’ naval force. Satish also added, ‘The satellite’s control facilities are in ISRO locations in India. Generic communication equipment is required on relevant platforms and hubs for transmitting and receiving data.’
Asked whether the satellite will have auxiliary functions like ‘Targeting Guidance,’ the navy clarified that the latter is required for a ‘surveillance satellite’ and is not relevant for GSAT 7, which is a ‘communications satellite.’
The 2,650 kg satellite has Ultra High Frequency (UHF), C-band and Ku-band transponders and was built at a cost of Rs 185 crores. The multi-band satellite is designed to help the navy not to hire transponders on such commercial service providers like Inmarsat. Also, the naval sources acknowledge that this is only the beginning, and there would be more developments being undertaken in the future. But key is to remain ‘low key.’
Answering a question, Captain Satish said that for now, the imageries needed by the navy are being bought from commercial, international outlets. And that practice is going to continue for a bit longer.